Basically he put the responsibility for this one on his team’s defense.
“Beyond tough luck,” he said of starting pitcher Christian Trent’s night. “I thought he pitched great early.”
Trent’s record fell to 3-1, and he recorded his first loss as a Rebel. But Bianco said had there been a few more plays made behind him, Trent might have continued his unblemished mark for two seasons.
LSU led 4-0 after four innings.
“The one-run inning (in the third) and the three-run inning (in the fourth) back to back, we just don’t make any plays for him,” Bianco said. “If we make some plays those two innings, not to take anything away from LSU, but we felt like we gave them those four runs.”
It was a homecoming of sorts for Trent, who was a part of the LSU program out of high school in Madisonville, La., before transferring to Delgado Community College in New Orleans and then to Ole Miss where he was the second-game starter last season on the run to the College World Series.
Trent said last year when LSU came to Oxford was a different story. The Rebels won the game he started 5-1 but lost the series.
“It wasn’t that big of a deal coming here,” he said of pitching in his former ballpark. “It wasn’t the same as last year. It was a lot less of me putting more on myself. I felt like it was just another day out there.”
Still Trent wasn’t overly pleased with his performance and wants to improve on it next weekend against Florida in Oxford.
“I didn’t make all the pitches I needed to make,” he said. “And (LSU) executed when they needed to execute. I just have to be a little better than that.”
Bianco said his team’s 10 hits were a plus after the struggles of the ballclub to score runs through several earlier games.
“We left a few on the table, but watching what we’ve seen from our offense the past few weeks, this is a positive,” he said. “Tonight I thought we were much more aggressive earlier in the count. We got a lot of good swings off.”
Bottom line: his team had its chances.
“It’S Friday night. You’ve got to play clean in the field and pitch really well and keep the score down,” Bianco said. “Credit their bullpen. They did a good job.”
Freshman Kyle Watson, playing left field this season and in the leadoff roll, had an impressive night in his first Southeastern Conference game. He was 3-for-4 with 2 RBI and a run scored.
Watson led the game off with a great at-bat, fouling off numerous pitches and reaching on a walk.
“First time in SEC play to lead off the game and have that kind of at-bat,” Bianco said. “It shows you he's a special player and he's having a good year. He set the tone for us offensively as far as competing and being able to do some things.”
Watson said that first at-bat was an approach and mindset he had starting the game.
“I was just battling,” said the team’s leading hitter this season. “Just trying to get on base any way I can.”
Watson said he tried to keep that approach throughout the game. He struck out late in the contest and was visibly disappointed in that fact.
“I tried my best,” Watson said of his effort on this night. “Coach (Mike) Clement and Coach (Mike) Bianco talk each at-bat about competing and winning pitches all night long.”
Watson again was on base in the third inning, this time with the Rebels’ first hit of the game but was again stranded, just like in the first inning.
In the bottom of the third inning, LSU leadoff hitter Andrew Stevenson reached on an infield single that no Rebel could make a play on. Then Jared Foster reached on a ball that dropped between second baseman Tate Blackman and right fielder Cameron Dishon.
Danny Zardon then hit into a double play, but Stevenson scored after having stolen third base. But that was all the Tigers would get in that inning.
Mark Laird led off the LSU fourth with a single, then got to second on a wild pitch. Then an error on Errol Robinson allowed Alex Bregman to reach.
Chris Chinea was out at first on a beautiful play by Blackman. He gloved the ball and with his glove hand pitched the ball to Orvis at first for the out. A Conner Hale double down the right field line scored two runs for the Tigers.
Kade Scivicque lined out to Bortles at third. But Stevenson got Hale home on a single up the middle for a 4-0 lead. Stevenson was thrown out by Austin Knight trying to steal second.
The Rebels got on the scoreboard in the fifth inning. After an out, Tate Blackman singled and Cameron Dishon doubled. Then Watson singled to get both runners home and cut the Tiger lead to 4-2.
Alex Bregman’s solo homer to lead off the bottom of the sixth made it 5-2 LSU. A wild pitch by Trent got another run home from third and it was 6-2.
The Rebels’ J.B. Woodman homered just right of the center field wall in the seventh after Watson was aboard with a single. That cut the Tiger lead to 6-4 with one out in the inning.
Woodman, the sophomore center fielder, went 2-for-4 with 2 RBI and a run scored.
Trent made it through seven innings and Jacob Waguespack pitched the eighth to wind things up.
Poche’ got the win and is 5-0. Jesse Stallings, the final of six pitchers used by the Tigers, got his eighth save of the season.
The teams play again Saturday at 7 p.m. in a game to be televised on the SEC Network.
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